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Your Guide to Transferrable Skills for a Career Change

Research shows that people are likely to change their careers between 5 to 7 times throughout their working lives, and 2022 reflected this revelation, with 70% of the workforce actively looking to make a switch.  
This should come as no big surprise, however, being that the world of work has changed drastically over the last few years, with the pandemic making individuals more aware of what they’re looking for from their jobs, careers and employers, resulting in less individuals settling. 

If you’re like 70% of the workforce and are currently thinking about switching careers, before you do anything it’s important to identify the skills that you can bring with you from your current role to a new one. These are also known as your transferrable skills 

Put simply, transferrable skills are extremely important when it comes to changing your career, as your unique set of transferrable skills is highly valued by employers – a notion further proved by the Future of Skills: Employment in 2030 survey. 
In this guide to transferrable skills for a career change, we’ll help you identify your skills and provide examples of how they can be used across a range of different sectors. 

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What are the transferrable skills?

Transferable skills – also known as soft skills – can be applied from one role to the next, regardless of industry or sector. To give you some context, a few examples of transferrable soft skills include:  

  • Problem-solving 
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking skills 

While these skills read as relatively general in nature, they’re specific to every individual in that they tend to come more naturally to them, showing up more as a quality or trait that affects how someone approaches your work.

This differs from hard skills, or technical skills, as these are often specific job-related competencies that more teachable, measurable, and rigid in how or where they can be applied.

Your transferrable skills are an amalgamation of the skills you’ve acquired throughout your life and career and utilising them to set you apart from the competition as you make your way through your career change is vital.  

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Why are transferrable skills important?

Put simply, transferrable skills are extremely important when it comes to changing your career, as your unique set of transferrable skills is what will make you stand out to employers.  

Employers know that individuals who have an array of transferrable skills can bring new energy to a role, a different outlook and be able to self-motivate. In fact, Leah Busque, American Entrepreneur, states that, “…people with highly transferrable skills may be specialists in certain areas, but they’re also incredible generalists, something businesses that want to grow need.”  
To this end, the relevant transferrable skills make potential employees more appealing to employers, even if you aren’t a ‘perfect match’, as these skills can highlight how you’re likely to be an asset to the company you apply with.  

Employers often identify transferrable skills through CVs, job applications and interview process. Highlighting these skills directly to your employer throughout your cover letter or during your interview shows your enthusiasm for the role, shows you have completed necessary research and confirms your capability from the offset.  

A great way to find the transferrable skills needed for a role is to review the job spec and description, they will often go into detail about the duties and responsibilities included in said job which will help you pinpoint how your transferrable skills could be applied. 

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Types of transferrable skills?

Being that every individual comes from a different background, it makes sense that everyone’s individual list of transferrable skills will vary, however, below we review some of the most common (and useful) transferrable skills.  

General skills  

Having good general transferrable skills is a great foundation and supplies lots of opportunities for growth and specialising. They are also some of the easiest to adopt and learn.  


Communication is a requirement in any job, and good communications skills require you to share information and ideas in a concise and effective manner.   
Choosing someone who’s a good communicator is important to potential employers as this gives them the confidence that you’ll be able get your job done efficiently, without leaving anyone confused or with any unanswered questions.  


Being able to stay organised and on top of your workload is crucial in any role or career. A well organised person can work more efficiently and can work better with others. A good organiser can: 

  • Prioritise their workload and tasks  
  • Meet their deadlines set by senior staff  
  • Set various goals and milestones to enhance professional development 
  • Follow instructions from senior staff promptly 


A transferrable skill that is fundamental when changing careers is adaptability. Change in the workplace is inevitable and employers look for those who can adapt to these changes. Whether that be adopting a new software or restructuring the business layout - an adaptable person will: 

  • Have an open mind 
  • Be curious and versatile  
  • See opportunity where others may see failure  
  • Be resourceful 

Teamwork & relationship building 

Unless you want to become a sole trader, or self-employed, it’s likely that you’ll work with other people throughout your career, whether that be in a team or with external stakeholders. Even then, however, a certain level of relationship building will be crucial to your success.  

That said, being able to build solid and transparent working relationships by respecting differences, providing mutual support and embracing collaboration are all attributes of a good team member, and someone that employers want to bring on board.  


Someone who is empathetic is generally described as someone who can sense and understand the emotions of those around them, a particularly useful skill if you’re a leader or manager who needs to be in tune with their teams.  

Employers will look for individuals who are empathetic as they are known for encouraging collaboration and innovation in the workplace. Having a high level of empathy also makes it easier for people to manage conflict while remaining compassionate and thoughtful to everyone involved.  


Being able to either self-motivate or motivate those around you is an incredibly valuable skill in the eyes of any employer. It shows great enthusiasm and a genuine interest in the work you are doing – which is always a plus!  
An employer wants to know that you are a sound investment and that becomes obvious when you’re actively motivated, driven and dedicated to your work and the organisation.  

Don't worry if you feel like you are lacking any of the above skills as upskilling is an extremely beneficial way increase knowledge, prepare for the future and increase your confidence! 

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How to identify your transferrable skills

To help you along with your career change, we have outlined a few ways that you can show your transferrable skills and pinpoint your strengths. 

1. Accomplishments: focus on your past experiences both inside and outside of work and write a list of the ones you enjoyed. From this you’ll be able to highlight the skills you used or the skills that were most helpful throughout these experiences.  

2. Focus on your current job description: when you first started out in the role you are currently in, your job description would have included the skills that the employer was looking for. If you’re ready for a career change, you’ll know and hold these skills.  

3. Take a skills test: there’s plenty of skills tests online that are designed to help you identify your transferrable skills as someone who is looking to change careers, return to work or progress in the workplace.  

4. Talk to those close to you: this may seem like a no brainer, but it’s worth asking those in your life what they feel like your characteristics, good qualities and achievements are. This will help you identify the skills you used in the specific situations or environments that they highlight. 

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Using your transferrable skills for a career change 

Example 1 

In Asia, there was a need for those working in cyber security, with the employment rate sitting at around 0% because of unfilled job positions.  

A blog written by Learning People explains that transferrable skills including problem solving, communication, collaboration and planning are the exact one's employers that are hiring in the cyber security space specifically look for.  

This draws attention to the fact that someone working in a nontechnical background, such as a teacher would be able to switch careers and work in the cyber security industry, as someone working in education would also hold those transferrable skills.  

It’s said that several professionals working in non-technical backgrounds hold many of these transferrable skills and therefore would be valuable assets to any cyber security company and therefore support overcoming the skills shortage in the industry.  

A teacher would be able to include said transferrable skills on their CV as well as being able to talk confidently in an interview about how they use those skills on a day-to-day basis.  

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Example 2 

STAR Recruitment have stated that those working in beauty sales, travel and cabin crew, banking and advertising hold several transferrable skills such as: 

  • Communication techniques 
  • Relationship building  
  • Attention to detail  
  • Motivation  

These transferrable skills also ring true of someone who works in the property industry or is an estate agent. A property manager must build relationships with their clients, similar to someone working in beauty sales, as well as staying motivated throughout particularly busy times such as Christmas, which is also true of cabin crew working through annual holiday seasons.  

 It is clear to see that individual’s working across property, sales, cabin crew and advertising hold similar transferrable skills. A solid way to portray this to employers would be to provide explicit examples of where the skills in these separate industries overlap.  

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Example 3  

Norman Wollaston, UX Designer, used his transferrable skills to switch from a career in retail to one in creative design. As someone who was:  

  • Empathetic  
  • Understanding 
  • A problem solver  
  • Creative  

Norman often thought about requirements and criteria of his retail customers and had large amounts of empathy for the users who were spending money based on his advice. It was his ability to think about business requirements and criteria, empathy for the user, understanding problems and supplying solutions that made a career as a UX designer possible.  

Are you looking for a career change?  

On top of homing in on and utilising your transferrable skills to get ahead, gaining a new professional qualification can also help you develop your professional goals and kickstart your new career.  
Not to mention, showing your commitment to learning and professional development will always make a good impression on any potential employer who is looking to invest in someone new.  

Start a new career with one of our 100% online qualifications today!